Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Billable Accommodations

A 5 year old in England recently came home from school with an envelope in his backpack. “Oh no, what did my child do at school today to warrant a letter sent home?” would be my thought.

“Oh no” is right, but this child didn’t do anything at school. It was what he didn’t do, and it was outside of school.

This child’s family had accepted an invitation to a birthday party on the child’s behalf. Plans changed and little Alex spent the day with his grandparents instead. They never informed the parents of the birthday child of this change in plans.

Apparently quite angry at having paid for a child who didn’t show up, the party parents sent an invoice for the equivalent of $24 home with Alex in his backpack. The invoice was for a “Child’s Party No-Show Fee”. Making the situation worse, when Alex’s parents made it clear that they would not be paying this particular bill, the party parents threatened to sue. Alex’s parents have taken to social media to make their case. Now, supposedly, the birthday boy will no longer play with Alex at school

My head is spinning with the number of things that are wrong with this scenario.

First let me say this, I completely understand how the birthday boy’s parents feel. I’ve been in a little different situation, where guests have not responded that they were coming and just shown up. I’m not talking about a couple, I’ve always got some extra food and treat bags planned, but I’ve had as many as 10 unexpected guests at my kids’ birthday parties. It was a nightmare in terms of logistics: room size, food, guest treat bags, entertainment. I can imagine what frustration the other situation might elicit, having paid for and planned for a no-show.


Burger Sliders on Potato Crisps | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Burger Sliders on Potato Crisps | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Burger Sliders on Potato Crisps

Right and wrong aren’t even up for discussion in this situation. There’s no excuse for:

*Using a child’s backpack and doing it via the school to send this kind of message.

*Sending a bill, threatening to sue, whatever immature thoughtless tactic was utilized to express anger.

*Exposing the 5 year old birthday boy to enough venom to result in his decision to no longer play with the boy who didn’t attend the party.

This is not about impulse control. What this family chose to do wasn’t a momentary act, implementation took time. No matter how angry the party holders were initially, why did self control never become an option along the way? Most importantly, why did the possible resulting implications to the emotional well-being of both children involved not dissuade them from this course of action? These people had this many chances to rein in their impulse to lash out:
1. When they decided to send the bill.
2. While they were writing the invoice.
3. When they brought it to the school.
4. When it was being sent home with the other child.

Without a doubt Alex’s family is wrong as well. They’ve not only gone public, but started a social media campaign to plead their case, effectively escalating instead of taking action to defuse the situation. And they’ve put their son’s face front and center in all of it. You know and I know that using a child in this way can come to no good.

For me, this whole story boils down to this one critical issue: bullying. Children are watching adults bully each other. Even worse, children are being bullied by adults.

Many years ago my son’s close friend was having a birthday party at a time when we would be away on vacation. I responded that he couldn’t attend, but bought a gift anyway. Circumstances changed and we had to cancel our vacation and go home for a family emergency instead. The day before we’d go back to Boston was the birthday party.

I knew the family. We were not friends but we were acquaintances, as our children were friends. I called to discuss the situation with the mother. I told her that our circumstances had changed and I was aware that it was the last minute. I asked her to please be honest, let me know if my son could now attend the party. I offered to explain to my son why a treat bag wouldn’t be available for him, or even to make a guest bag for him myself.

Yes, this took chutzpah and I’m sure I put her on the spot. There’s no question in my mind that she had to scramble to accommodate my son. I also know that I would have done it for another child if the situation were reversed. She said that she was happy to have him and she’d provide the guest bag. He’d be treated like the welcome guest that he was.

This is how adults communicate with each other. Privately, respectfully and outside of the hearing of the children involved. This is how far rational adults go to see that children are happy and smiling and feel included.

Even if it’s messy. Even if it’s inconvenient.

In my situation, adults spoke to each other. No bills were sent. No real value could possibly be assessed. Why? Because this is the kind of example we show to our children if we want them to be kind, polite, accommodating adults of the future. And that is priceless.

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Burger Sliders on Potato Crisps
                                                                           ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
1# ground beef
1/3 cup dried minced onion
1 tsp Seasoned salt seasoning blend
1 egg
2 large potatoes
2 TBSP butter
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
Approximately 2/3 cup Shredded cheddar cheese
 
Directions:
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
*Melt the butter. Peel the potatoes and slice into about 1/3 inch slices. Place the potato slices on the baking sheet and, using a pastry brush, brush the potato slices with butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
*Bake potatoes for 25 minutes. Flip them over, bake for 15 minutes, top with the cheddar and return to oven until the cheddar is melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
*Mix the ground beef, minced onion, seasoned salt and egg just until all the ingredients are incorporated into the ground beef. Don’t over mix. Form into about 1 inch balls. Flatten to look like mini burgers.
*Coat a skillet with non-stick spray and put on medium heat. Once the skillet starts to get hot, add as many burgers as will fit without touching. Cook approximately 3 minutes, flip over and cook the other side.
*Place half of the potato slices on your serving dish, cheese side up. Put a mini burger on each slice, then top with a second potato slice, cheese side down.

28 comments:

  1. Oh man, I heard about that, and I thought it is sad that it has come to this. Usually when we say (in German) that something is like a kids' birthday, what we mean is "a walk in the park", something nice and easy. Guess I'll need a new expression.
    What I don't understand is the Alex Family: how hard can it be to track down the host family to tell them they had to cancel, and the boy couldn't attend even though they RVSPd earlier? Wasn't there an address and phone number on the Invitation? If not, that would be a lesson for the host family.
    Also: is it really about the money? Or were there other hard feelings involved?
    I was in the exact same Situation as your son's friend's mom. Last year a day before C's bday party, a friend's mom called and said the weather wasn't looking good, so they wouldn't go to the mountains after all, and could their kid still attend? Of course he could, and I was glad she asked and didn't just drop him off.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, so many issues here I could have gone on and on. Without a doubt I believe that Alex's family could have tracked down the host family either themselves or through other classmates. Just saying "we didn't know how to reach them" is a lame excuse and they certainly created the initial bad feelings with their rudeness. But oh, where it went from there. Bottom line: parents should defuse, not escalate.

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  2. I agree with you 100%!!!!
    This whole thing just hurts my heart for those kids!! What are people thinking?? What makes them think that these are OK things to do?? ARGH!! I just don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where is it that we adults think bullying comes from? HELLO . . . these kids see how adults behave towards each other, even when it involves young children. Mistakes are made, we have to decide whether to make it worse or make it better.

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  3. Wow this is so unbelievably stupid and uncalled for. These poor kids should get to watch while all their parents are put into time out! I wonder how it was put into the backpack did the teacher allow it or was it put there by the child I wonder. Doesn't matter either way they are all stupid and we wonder were our kids learn this stuff!

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    1. I agree that the school was no place for this and if the school sanctioned it they should join the parents in a time-out!

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  4. When I first read this story all I could do was shake my head in amazement/disappointment. On a side note, I don't know what's wrong with the birthday boy's dad. If it were me, my only thought if a kid didn't show would be: "Woohoo! More leftover cake for me!"

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  5. When I read this story, I was annoyed at the parents...all of them. Absolutely Alex's parents should have tried harder to track down the other family. But BILLING them was completely uncalled for an, in my opinion, a promotion of bullying to their son. I've been on both ends of the spectrum and, while I know it is annoying, to react the way the birthday boy's family did was uncalled for.

    Do they even realize they are hurting their children?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. How dare they not even consider what the repercussions of their actions will be for their children.
      But I blame Alex's family too, not just for not trying harder to track down the other family, but for putting this whole issue out there on media and social media with their kid's face in the center of the controversy. They're not trying to protect him at all either.

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  6. This is bad form on so many levels! On a better note the recipe looks great!

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    Replies
    1. I agree, it's almost mind boggling how many things went wrong here.

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  7. Thanks for expressing the voice of reason! What a crazy world we live in - glad everyone is not like those families! Communication can solve so much!

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    1. I feel that the family of the boy who didn't attend the party did not act in good faith, setting off this whole fiasco. I find it really hard to believe that they just couldn't get hold of that other family.

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  8. Parents are crazy. I really think that email and all the social media have changed the rules of communication. Folks just don't know how to communicate anymore. I notice it especially when teenagers are texting each other about making plans for an occasion. It would be so much easier if they spoke to each other, but they don't know how to do that anymore. Obviously, either do adults. And the schools for the most part, make it worse. Luckily, my kids are 24 so we are a little beyond that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there's so much value to living in a world with texting and social media but I agree with you, there's such a thing as going too far. Now instead of maintaining our connections and adding another kind of connection, we're more replacing one with another.

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  9. Those burger sliders would have been perfect while we were off from work snowed in today here in NYC! Alas, it was tunafish for me!

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    1. With the weather you just had, you're lucky you had provisions. I'm guessing you didn't get out of the house at all.

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    2. I bought a bunch of stuff at the market a day before so we have a lot of food and snacks, plus about 20 bottles of wine! I'll stay home all week!

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    3. I say stay home til the wine runs out. Then see if you can negotiate delivery.

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  10. I had heard about this story, and was in disbelief. If adults could come from a place of thinking about their children instead of themselves, the world would be a much better place. Well written!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. Their whole attitude was "it's all about me". How sad that their children are collateral damage.

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  11. You nailed it on the head with the bullying comment. There is bullying (and immaturity) on both sides of this and the poor kids are in the middle of it. Not to mention that they are learning by example.

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    1. Absolutely. Children learn by example and this example makes me cringe.

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  12. I'm so glad I don't throw parties for my kids. If they want to have friends over, fine - but it's not going to be a fiesta. I wouldn't be able to handle the stress!

    That situation is, however, ridiculous all around.

    As for your recipe, I think you've summed up my husband's dietary preferences in one sandwich!

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    Replies
    1. Your husband must have the exact same dietary preferences as my kids!

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  13. The story is unbelievable. I can't comprehend how it would EVER be okay to involve the children in this. My heart aches for the kids. The backpack "billing" thing was deplorable.
    Where were the "grown-ups" in this story? For another time, what is it with the expensive birthday parities in the first place? Who are they really for?
    Bad form, all around.
    Good form? Giving a great burger and potato crisp recipe. Thanks, K :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously, what are those poor kids learning?

      Delete

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